First of all, thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be here with my new release Prodigal, the first in the Lost and Found trilogy. Prodigal is set years after the disappearance of a child in Cutter’s Gap left the town, and the people left behind, shattered. In ‘Feet of Clay’ I revisit Cutter’s Gap in the years between Sammy Calloway’s disappearance and the start of Prodigal.
I hope you enjoy it!
Feet of Clay • Chapter One
by TA Moore
Halfway through the nightshift the coffee in the break room tasted like something drained out of a truck’s oil filter. Mac poured himself a cup anyhow. If you added enough sugar, it was fine.
He took a drink and grimaced as the grit scraped the roof of his mouth. Well, it wouldn’t kill him. The writer sat at the table with her equipment laid out fastidiously in front of her. Every now and again she reached to check absently that it was still on.
“I don’t know what you want from me,” Mac said. “Anything I know is public record. If you read Maccabee’s book, then you know as much as me.”
The woman leaned forward and braced her elbows on the table, her hands under her chin.
“I’m not a journalist, Lieutenant MacKenzie” she said. “I’m not a writer, not like Sullivan, either. This is research for an academic paper that I’m working on. It’s about the possible epigenetic impact of this sort of community-experienced trauma on–”
Mac held his hand up. “I get it,” he said. “You’re a professor not a paparazzi. That doesn’t change what I’ve got to say. Everything that happened back then–every decision, every clue, every dead end we slammed face first into–has been dissected a dozen times over. I’m bled out on details, Dr Masterton. Sammy Calloway disappeared. We never found him. What more do you want.”
She rubbed her lip with her knuckle, smudged the toffee brown gloss she’d applied.
“Nothing,” she said. “I’m not a forensic scientist, Lieutenant, or a criminal psychologist. Maybe Cutter’s Gap PD did make a mistake back then, maybe something was missed that you could have used to bring Sammy home. But you didn’t, and that’s what I’m interested in. Not what happened after Sammy was taken, but what’s happened since you gave up on getting him back. That documentary that Netflix made for five year anniversary was called The Boy the Town Forgot, but what I want to know what it’s like to live in that town.”
Mac looked down into his coffee. It was black and vaguely oily, a smear of greasy creamer on top. How many of these cups had he held over the years? When the hunt had been on for Sammy he’d lived on cups of this and not much else. One day his stomach lining was going to have its revenge.
“Yeah,” he said quietly. “Me too.”
There was a pause for a second and then the professor turned the recorder off with a click.
“Your captain told you to talk to me,” she said. Mac’s shoulders tightened and the already sour taste in his mouth thickened. “I need you to want to talk to me, to get other people to talk to me.”
“Can’t the captain do that?”
The professor smiled wryly as she packed her equipment away. “Only to shut me, and because he knew you didn’t want to,” she said. “Think about it. I’m in town for the rest of the week. Let me know if you change your mind. I think you could help me a lot more than you realise. It might help you to.”
She stood up, slung her bag over her shoulder, and offered Mac a neat, unadorned card. He took it and Professor Masterton left, her heels loud on the tiled floor as she headed for the door.
Mac hadn’t been raised with much, but he had manners. He waited until she was gone before he tossed the card in the trash.
He had a job to do and it wasn’t raking over the past.